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We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.

F. A. Hayek

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Bogged Down By Money

ABC Chairman Electra Tortorella

ABC Chairman Electra Tortorella

The All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met this week. They heard from Business Manager Sam Herrick about the budget process for the coming year. They went over a second reading of the joint agreement for regional employment of the Superintendent of Schools. They got bogged down in a lengthy discussion of how to proportion payment for her compensation among the various school districts. And they decided to send the template for the joint agreement on shared services off to the regional attorney for a rewrite.

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Administrivia

Region 1 Board members Jennifer Wiegel, Phil Hart, and Ned Gow

Region 1 Board members Jennifer Wiegel, Phil Hart, and Ned Gow

On Monday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education got started on the new school year. The evening was filled with numerous reports, punctuated by input from the new Principal at the high school, Jose Martinez. They heard an upbeat presentation on the advisory program which starts in freshman year. They hired two new teachers who are already teaching. The policy committee, obviously busy over the summer, reported back with a plethora of new and reworked policies. And they entered into yet another executive session, with the All Boards Committee (ABC), on the litigation of Goncalves vs. Toensing.

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Numbers

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

The first regular meeting of the Kent Board of Education was held Thursday evening. The new school year started well for Kent Center School. Principal Florence Budge reported on the status and the hiring of several new staff members. Jonathan Moore, Kent’s representative to the Region 1 Board of Education, introduced Jose Martinez, the new Principal at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Martinez engaged in a discussion of the high school. The board also discussed the continued implementation of Common Core and the ongoing governance issues in Region 1.

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Onward to Governance

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This week, the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met jointly with the Region 1 Board of Education to discuss governance in Region 1. Chairman Electra Tortorella, Sharon, led the discussion. They went over an initial pass at a joint agreement for employment of a Superintendent of Schools. The discussion included the weight of voting on the ABC committee and the proportionality of payment by towns. They agreed to start review of a second joint agreement on shared services over the objection of Region 1 Chairman Andrea Downs. The group handled the writing of agreements as a committee of the whole, a twelve person committee.

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Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met in executive session this week to discuss the pending litigation of Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves against former board member Gale Toensing. The legal action has been ongoing for almost exactly one year, with the usual motions and delays typical of such courts. Apparently Goncalves had previously offered a contract buyout, so perhaps this meeting was a discussion of that offer. In any event, the situation is complicated by the fact that Goncalves is a teacher with all the rights of a teacher as specified by Connecticut General Statute 10-151.

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Step By Step

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The All Boards Chairmen (ABC) committee met this week to continue their discussion of the governance of Region 1. They considered the opinions of the three attorneys from past and present requests on the subject spanning a dozen years. All three had recommended joint agreements on shared services between the various boards in Region 1. They heard from two members of the public in support of joint agreements. They decided to review the templates from Attorney Meuser for possible starting points with a view to asking clarifying questions. They set a meeting for next month.

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The Greenskeeper

A nine iron away by Eva DeFranco

A nine iron away by Eva DeFranco

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Contingency

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This week, the Kent Board of Education decided to buy a replacement telephone system from contingency funds. The old phone system succumbed to a lightning strike in the area. They also approved the hiring of a new science teacher for the 5-6 grades, and extended the contract for their music teacher, David Poirier, to full time.

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The Value of Education in Region 1

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How well does Housatonic Valley Regional High School stack up against other high schools? Housatonic, by all accounts, has excellent breadth in extracurricular activities which an isolated regional school should have. And the distribution of electives looks good. But how does the performance of our students in the core areas of reading, math and science measure up?

Up until this year, Connecticut kept its own standards for the core subjects. The state tested students by those standards and used those tests to evaluate each school’s progress toward a set of goals. While the tests will change over the next few years to fit Common Core curriculum, a review of the current results against the past standards and their meaning is instructive. In particular, Housatonic can be compared to other state high schools.

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Kent’s Cost of Education

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Thursday, the Kent Board of Education ended their school year. They set the out-of-town tuition at $11,000 per student per year consistent with the 6% increase in costs for Kent Center School. They passed a new policy on the residency of students hoping to overcome the problem encountered last year. They accepted the retirement of teacher Len Gulatta after 42 years of teaching. And Chairman Paul Cortese proposed an emergency purchase of a new phone system from regional surplus to replace the broken phone system.

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